The transcripts of the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. More…

  • Thank you. Well, we're all here, back. Is there anything else that I can do this afternoon? Mr Jay?

  • Sir, I need to update you and the core participants with the state of the evidence on the system.

  • There are, in my understanding at the moment, eight or possibly nine witness statements on the system. Either by close of play tonight or first thing tomorrow morning, there will be seven or eight more, namely the statements of HJK, who has been anonymised pursuant to your order, JK Rowling, Christopher Jefferies, Sheryl Gascoigne, Gary Flitcroft, Graham Shear and Margaret Watson.

    There are five or six further statements which should be available by close of play tomorrow. Various redactions have been looked at and I think now have been agreed: Steve Coogan, Ian Hurst, Charlotte Church, Anne Diamond, a supplementary statement from Hugh Grant, and a statement from Jane Winter.

    So we're waiting for the statements from Sienna Miller and the supplementary statement from Mark Lewis. We don't believe Sienna Miller's statement, once available -- I understand it's been approved but not yet signed -- will give rise to any difficulty in relation to possible redaction. The same may not be true of Mark Lewis's supplementary statement. Consideration will have to be given to that. We don't know yet what it says.

    Various of the exhibits are available on the system. Others are being looked at as a matter of some urgency. Some proposed redactions have been made, but there's been a difficulty with one copy sent through to us. These are teething problems which we will resolve in the very immediate future.

    The exhibits contain material some of which is in the public domain, all of which, however, will be confidential to the core participants at this stage. Of course, we will make those available as soon as possible. How exactly some of the exhibits are treated when the witnesses give evidence will be a matter of discussion. May I, as it were, highlight a point? I can do it in relation to Mr Mosley's evidence.

    He quite rightly puts within his bundle the original article in the News of the World which gave rise to the claim in the tort of breach of privacy. It will not be the Inquiry's intention to, as it were, place that article again in the public domain.

  • That would defeat the very object and I made it abundantly clear that I didn't intend to allow the Inquiry to revictimise those who had been described as victims or to risk victimisation of those who complained that they are victims.

  • Yes. However, the article will be made available to the core participants, subject to the confidentiality undertakings they have given, and it may be necessary to me to refer to a line or two in the article to make good the points Mr Mosley wishes to make good. The last thing I'm going to do is, as it were, display anything which is, as it were, pictorial in the article on any screen in this room.

  • Mr Sherborne is probably quite familiar with this article, and therefore you'll doubtless discuss with him --

  • -- how you intend to present it.

  • Yes. What is likely to happen is that everybody in this room will have the article in front of them. I say "everybody in this room"; the core participants will, but any member of the public, I'm afraid, will not see the article on the screen and therefore the material will not be on the live system, which we know about.

    So the proceedings will be 98 per cent intelligible but not 100 per cent, and the missing 2 per cent is to protect Mr Mosley from precisely --

  • They're likely to be intelligible, but perhaps not the full --

  • Yes. It's that sort of point. We will be very sensitive to that. We fully understand that these are public proceedings, this is a public Inquiry, but it's a question of just applying judgment and common sense, and that's what we propose to do throughout. The same sort of principles are going to apply elsewhere, but each of the 21 cases we'll be looking at next week is slightly different from the others.

  • Right. Next week is a little bit different from the rest of the Inquiry because all the witnesses are, for want of a better phrase, members of the public.

  • But I am somewhat concerned that the core participants should have sufficient time to read and assimilate the material --

  • -- and that we develop a system which gives them plenty of time. I don't suppose there will be a very great deal for suggestion to the Inquiry in relation to them, because they're providing the Inquiry with a window on the impact on them of whatever has happened.

  • Which is hardly likely to be extremely contentious, even if it's not agreed.

  • But we're going to come into witnesses where different considerations may well obtain.

  • Sir, I agree with that. As I said, next week's statements are -- how should I put it? -- multifarious. There are some common themes, but each witness has something different to say. I think the largest statement is only about 21 pages. The statements will not take long to read. Core participants may have lines of questioning to suggest in some of the cases. I wouldn't have thought very many.

    Some of the exhibits appear quite forbidding. In Mr Mosley's case, his second exhibit is 450 pages long.

  • Yes, but he includes all the statements in his --

  • -- civil action and the submissions made to the European Court and the judgment of the European Court.

  • Yes, and we're not going to go there. I'm going to summarise it. We're not going to relitigate what happened before Mr Justice Eady. Certain points will be brought out.

    The position may be a little different elsewhere. What I'm saying is that although the statements are going or some of the statements are going on the system slightly late, this is not going to prejudice anybody and I would hope that any lines of questioning, which of course we will treat on a confidential basis -- we're not going to attribute, if I ask a question, that question to any particular core participant because that would be quite wrong.

    But those will doubtless come by the end of this week or perhaps over the weekend and if there is any line of questioning which I consider to be inappropriate, we will let the relevant core participant know, which will give rise to the possibility -- I put it no higher than that -- of an application under rule 10(3), I think it is, for the core participant to ask the question, although you've already indicated that your preliminary view is that that would be highly unlikely in any of these 21 cases.

  • The position may be different elsewhere, although you haven't excluded it out of court in time.

  • The considerations are, it seems to me, different.

  • Given what Mr Rhodri Davies has said this morning, all those that come within the generic descriptions that he there talked about, it is only to provide -- I say "only"; it is importantly to provide that background and to paint the impact side of the picture.

  • In relation to other potential alleged ethical abuses, slightly different considerations might arise but it doesn't seem to me that they're likely.

  • No.

    Sir, the remainder of -- well, next week is catered for. It's a four-day week starting on the 21st and finishing on the Thursday, and the core participants have seen the list. We're working on the basis of usually four, but on one occasion I think five witnesses a day. My assessment is that some of the witnesses may be quite short. Others, however, may be longer than the average one hour that is being allotted, but it ought to be quite obvious who those are. Mr Mosley, for example, may be a bit longer. Mr Grant, and one or two others.

  • Of course, to some extent, we now have to cope with the additional material that's emanated quite recently, both in relation to Mr Grant and in relation to Mr Lewis.

  • Yes. That last issue is a bit of an open question, because although one can speculate on reasonable grounds what that additional material might relate to, we haven't seen it. But there is enough flexibility in the timetable with goodwill all around to accommodate that, but the basic point is that we will finish -- I repeat, we will finish -- these 21 witnesses by, if necessary, 5 pm on Monday, 28 November, and then within the next day or so, we will have finalised the witness list for the succeeding three days; that's to say 29 November to 1 December.

    By way of sneak preview, I'm able to say that we'll be having Mr Richard Thomas, the former Information Commissioner. He will be on the Thursday, 1 December, and his statements, which I think at the moment run to three and we're waiting for the fourth, will be made available in the next day or so. We're just finalising with him that there are no redactions which he wishes to be made. His material is quite voluminous and there is a range of background material which may need to be put to him. So we are allocating a whole day, exceptionally, to his evidence. As I anticipated in my opening yesterday, we expect there to be lines of questioning put to us by core participants, and Mr Caplan has already indicated or foreshadowed what one of those lines may be, because there's a witness statement from Ms Hartley which indicates precisely that.

    We also expect to be hearing that week from Mr Alastair Campbell and one or two other witnesses whose identities will be vouchsafed in the very near future.

  • What we're aiming to do is to give 10 to 14 days' advance notice of witnesses so that everybody can be geared up.

  • I'd be grateful for that. I'd also be grateful if forewarning could be given of the contents of statements, because I am sure that much value can be obtained from meetings between counsel -- I don't necessarily mean members of the bar; it could be solicitors, it could be legal advisers of the relevant core participants -- as to perceptions of time.

  • You will know broadly what you want to elicit and how long that will take, but I'm very keen to fill up the days.

  • I've been conscious of the problem today. We allowed rather longer for people to speak than some have spoken. That's not a mistake I'll make in the future. It's not a mistake at all, actually, I hasten to add. But I don't want to have many days that, as it were, we have the afternoon off.

  • Neither do I want particularly to have days where I have to start at 10.00 and finish at 6.00 to get through it, because that suggests a rush which I don't wish to --

  • -- provide by way of impression at all.

  • Yes. It's quite difficult, though, to calibrate this. We form a judgment as to how long a witness might take. We were going to build into the timetable the possibility of summarising statements, inviting you to read statements. Of course you'll do that behind the scenes, not during Inquiry time, but we still have to make allowance for that, since you're not working until 1.00 am in the morning, I hope, reading statements.

  • I'm no longer of the bar, Mr Jay.

  • In fact, frankly the priority is, although we don't want to be working to 6 o'clock in the evening and then preparing for the following day, it seems to us more important that we don't have fallow periods during the hearing.

  • Perhaps we'll err slightly on the side of toughness than on the side of laxity --

  • I have no doubt that everybody will work together very quickly and you'll get an impression very quickly about the pace that we can take this.

  • But that's one of the areas where I'm looking to everybody to assist.

  • Yes. Certainly, the last point, in relation to the first 21 witnesses, we do not wish to give the impression that any of this evidence will be rushed. It won't be.

    In our view, given the likely absence of any, as it were, probing questions -- most if not all of the questions will merely be to elicit the evidence -- one hour or one and a quarter hours is a long time for a witness, and we are confident that the periods allocated will be more than sufficient to give each witness the opportunity to say precisely what he or she wishes. Of course, it should be understood by everyone that you will have pre-read the witness statements and any background materials we provide. The witnesses will be invited to confirm that their statements are true and that they've signed them and of course they're giving the evidence on oath. We will be treating their evidence more expansively than some of the later witnesses, where perhaps there will be more highlighting just of key points and then moving on to the more probing questions, but basically there's, I hope, a degree of common sense and sensitivity in relation to all the evidence you're likely to hear over the next few months.

  • Good. Well, it's important that I get the right picture and everybody can help me do that by applying their minds to the way in which it's presented and the time it takes.

  • Right, thank you.

    One other thing, Mr Jay. Mr Caplan mentioned the protocol for anonymous witnesses.

  • Without pressing the pressed team, I would be quite keen that that was resolved --

  • Yes. It has been put out for consultation, so the core participants have seen it. We've invited representations. If there are any representations on the protocol, then we will probably have to sit early at some point and resolve them.

  • We'll resolve it. Okay, thank you very much.

  • Let's see how we get on. Mr Caplan has raised on point of principle on anonymity which he may well invite you to resolve without prejudice to the protocol. That's absolutely fine. We'll just have to make time for that.

  • Yes. I've already dealt to some extent with that issue in the ruling that I've given.

  • Sir, thank you. May I just make one or two comments about the witness statements?

  • Thank you for the observation, obviously, that the core participants need early sight of the statements. Sir, I fully understand that the private individuals, 1 to 21, are coming to give primarily impact evidence. Of such statements that we have seen of those 21 individuals, though, they also do make allegations against a number of publishers and it is important, if I may respectfully say so, that we have as much forewarning of the evidence that they're proposing to give so that we can do our own researches and respond to those allegations if necessary.

    Of the witnesses next week, there are eight whose evidence we simply have not seen at all.

  • I hope those are the ones that Mr Jay says you'll see tonight --

  • -- or first thing tomorrow morning.

  • The other matter is -- I'm sure this is the case -- if witness statements can be distributed as soon as they are available. I know, for example, Mr Thomas is going to give evidence all day on 1 December. His evidence, we're told by Mr Jay, contains a vast amount, or a significant amount of documentation. That may involve us making enquiries of our own journalists and therefore the sooner we can have this evidence, the sooner we can --

  • Mr Caplan, I entirely agree. It's obviously important, and I recognise that some allegations are made against publishers by some of the victims, but you will understand -- and I hope that they will understand -- that I will not be making findings of fact specifically in connection with particular complaints because that takes me down a track which would be very difficult to reach the end of, not least because of the police investigation.

  • I understand that. It's just if allegations are made in the public domain, it may be necessary to respond to them.

  • I understand, and balance is going to be all.

  • Thank you. Yes. Mr Jay, that's obviously a very important point about the witnesses and we have to sort it out.

    Was there anything else that anybody else wanted to raise? All right.

    No, I'm sorry, Ms Decoulos, you're not a core participant and therefore you have no standing in front of me. You've been told that if you wanted to submit a statement, you could do. You haven't. That's it. Thank you.

  • That's fair enough. Then you'll be dealt with like all the other witnesses but you don't have a standing in the Inquiry. Thank you very much.

    Right.

  • Tomorrow morning, 10 am, I think, we're hearing from --

  • NUJ first, through the general secretary. I think about one hour. Mr Rusbridger of the Guardian is coming at 11.00. He'll be however long he'd like to be and then Mr Sherborne at quarter to 12, 12 o'clock. Again, he's indicated about an hour and a half-ish.

  • We'll have a slightly longer day than today.

  • Not quite perhaps as long as yesterday. Not as long as next week will promise to be.

    Thank you very much indeed. Tomorrow.

  • (The hearing adjourned until 10 o'clock the following day)